Queen of the Underworld (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Gail Godwin’s previous eleven novels, published over a period of thirty-four years, typically explore the ties of romance, marriage, family, and friendships in America. The New Yorker has encapsulated her career as “a three-time National Book Award nominee, best known for her sharp women characters and southern sensibility.”
Godwin’s twelfth novel, Queen of the Underworld, is both a departure and a homecoming. Set in a distinctive historical period, the 1959 Cuban cultural purge following Fidel Castro’s overthrow of the government, the story traces part of an eventful summer in the life of cub reporter Emma Ganta largely autobiographical character whose experiences tend to mirror Godwin’s own first newspaper job. Readers who are interested in tracing the parallels need look no further than the author’s newest book of nonfiction, published almost simultaneously with the novelThe Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961-1963 (2006), the first volume of Godwin’s projected two-volume memoir.
Emma, despite a troubled family life and an abusive stepfather, is an academic standout who personifies the descriptions “plucky,” “feisty,” “headstrong,” and “go-getter.” Not content simply to learn the ropes at her entry-level reporting jobmuch of which involves transcribing obituaries via telephone from the...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Booklist 102, no. 2 (September 15, 2005): 6.
The New York Times Book Review 155 (March 5, 2006): 8.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 40 (October 10, 2005): 34.
Southern Living 41, no. 2 (February , 2006): 147.
Weekly Standard 11, no. 18 (January 23, 2006): 38-40.
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